Tuesday, January 5, 2016

This Is Me Not Caring That My Food Allergies Offend You...

Like a lot of people I have issues with certain foods. Not because of texture, smell, or overall disgust. Because I am gluten and lactose intolerant. Paired with a hiatal hernia , I've clearly got issues...
I am so tired of people acting as though food allergies are a choice.
Food allergies are more common than most people think, causing major gut problems people pop Tums in mass quantities to mask.
Last year I was experiencing lower abdominal pains and GI issues. My doctor was concerned it was my gallbladder. He ordered all kinds of scans to be done. After refusing another surgery, I did some of my own research (again) and testing. We determined I was gluten intolerant. I avoided surgery, prescriptions, and few thousand dollars in medical bills.
Granted going out for a bite to eat isn't always the easiest, but I find it easier now than a year ago. Most restaurants are supporting the gluten free world, along with educating their staff on the topic. What I find concerning is why does it annoy, disturb, or bother anyone that I order gluten free pizza with no cheese and loads of veggies? Could I possibly make the wait staff that uncomfortable with my personalized order? Would it be better if I arrived without pants on and ordered a more common meal? I think society is often so offended by personal choice as it is, but food allergies are NOT a choice.
I cannot eat such food groups with out major side effects. Migraines, crazy menstrual cycles, gut aches, constipation, bloating, joint pain, insomnia, fog brain, just to name a few.
Recently I mentioned how my food allergies required me to make my own food for ultra events that I run. I had an individual look at me as though I had  third eye! Here's the scoop...it's VERY easy! Eating real food during events has also help speed up recovery. I used to take in sugar filled foods, candy, basically crap during races. Now, I eat sweet potatoes, avocados, gluten free turkey, Cutie oranges, mashed potatoes, lettuce wraps...my menu is colorful! (Gluten free Ciabatta bread is also lovely for sandwiches.)
Since the change, I have had less GI issues (sometimes none), quicker recovery, I actually don't have to force myself to eat, I enjoy it!
Food prep for races is easy... I make a list and prep all of my foods. I place them in "throw away" Glad containers or baggies. I find that it's also easier for myself and my crew to keep track of my calories as well. 2 Cutie oranges (peeled) in a baggie on the go supplies me 160 calories. Versus a gel that supplies me with diarrhea.
Keeping things cold is easy. Keeping things warm, not so much. Recently I have been spoiled with races having access to a microwave. However, at more remote events, warm packs do the trick if I warm my the food up before hand. I also adapt to what I need, and having a crew helps with this hiccup.
Another discussion I have been part of recently, "A gluten free diet is too ________." Fill in the blank: expensive, time-consuming, inconvenient, hard for me. The truth is, our grocery bill isn't much different. Yes, specialty items do cost more. I do not eat a lot of bread, pasta, or what I call convenience foods. When I do buy them, it's more like a treat. Most of our grocery cost is produce...and peanut butter! I do not eat meat regularly, that also supports the offset of gluten free expenses. I also find that when we do go out for a meal, I order a side salad and a baked potato most times and my meal is generally the least expensive!
My children eat about 60% gluten free in my home. I don't tell them, and that don't know any different. I feel like kids need more fruits and veggies daily anyway, and not filler foods. We all think we need crackers, bread, cereal. We don't! Try eating gluten free oats with fruit for breakfast, or a green smoothie. For lunch have a salad with lemon juice, instead of dressing. Treat yourself to zucchini "pasta" with a veggie full sauce! Learn to explore foods, fight the norm!
Create a happy place in your body...it will thank you!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Let Them Be Children

I used to be "that" parent. You know, the one that pushed their children to be involved in an activity, because it was my passion. I read more and more about the psychology of motivation, and what drives us to be passionate. It doesn't have to be sports, it can be anything. Passion is a force that drives us to be involved in an activity that feeds our soul.
I love being active. I of course, want my children to have that love as well. I want to watch them run amongst the trees, playing on the dirt course, floating across pine needles. I want them to feel the fresh air through their hair. I want them to love the way the tree bark feels across the tips of their fingers. I would spend all day playing in the woods if I could.
The thing is, that's me...not them. I have had a hard time accepting that my children may not love my passion. Madison is a perfect example. Since 5th grade, she has tried her hand at running several times. And, she hates it. Every. Single. Time. It became quite apparent to me last year, when she was in the 7th grade, that I would have to bite my tongue. I knew that Madison kept signing up for such activities to not only make me proud, but to be like me.
So, last year when she came home nearly in tears telling me that she hated track, I knew I couldn't push her. I looked at her, and said, "All I ever want for my kids is to be the best they can be. I don't care if it's track, singing, stamp collecting, or journalism...you just have to give it 110%." In all honesty, Madison had given track her best. Because of this, I did something I don't normally do. I allowed her to quit. It turned out to be one of the best things I could do for Madison.
I set her free to be herself, an individual. Not a carbon copy of myself. She completed an application for Leadership Academy, and was accepted. She tried out for Show Choir, and made it in. I had given her permission to find her niche, HER passion.
Madison has never responded well to my tough love approach. She immediately shuts down when I push. I always thought being competitive would click with her one day. I believed the more I pushed, and the more I involved her in my world of running, that she would become engulfed in my same passion. That's not how it works, she had to find what made her tick.
Madison offers a peacefulness to the world. Since she has found what she loves, she is full of happiness and radiates joy. When she smiles, it reminds me of a younger me, but better. Her heart is always in the right place. I couldn't be prouder of my daughter for not running.
Halle and CJ both find joy on the dirt single track. They both want to be fast. I am trying to teach them endurance. Part of the joy for me is watching their faces light up when they hit a distance PR, or find a snail on the trail and "rescue" the shelled slug. It's sharing the beauty of the journey with them that makes my heart radiate with pride. No ribbon, medal, or podium can replace that kind of pride.
All I can ever hope for my children is to find their happy place and never give up on that passion. Passion is what keeps the fire alive in us. It makes us want to be the best version of ourselves. That's all I can really hope to instill in my children.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Is Age REALLY Just a Number?

"You know, you're getting older and you just won't recover as fast." Words said to me after seeing my GP several months ago. I looked at him like he was crazy. I know I did, because I was thinking just that. I am very in tune with my body. What it's capable of, what it's NOT capable of, when something is "off" versus just aging. I sat in my doctor's office with tear filled eyes, " I know something is wrong." I told him, "I'm just not myself."
So for a good part of June and all of July I spent most of my time at doctor appointments, or a lab. Blood tests, lab work, follow-ups...all showing I was in normal ranges. Still, I was miserable.
For months I struggled with sleep. I'd wake in hot sweats, or I would feel anxious, tossing and turning all night. My recovery was non existent. I would run 6 miles and feel like I could lay down and sleep immediately after, I would ache for up to 4 days after a run. I was lifting 3 or 4 days a week with 5 days of running, I managed to gain 11 pounds. (My diet wasn't an issue.) My brain was foggy, and my memory was on paid leave somewhere.
I was slowly becoming depressed. I was not capable of running in the woods, I was lacking that connection that grounds me. All of my workouts were showing zero results, my ability actually was on the decline.
I had been researching all of my symptoms, and lab results. Researching them for endurance athletes, not for "normal" people is where I found my answers. At my next appointment I explained to my doctor that my hormone ranges were way out of whack for a female endurance athlete. I showed him all of my data. He agreed it was time for me to see a specialist for hormone replacement therapy. HALLELUJAH!
A week later I found myself meeting with my HRT doctor. She. Was. Amazing. She did all of the same labs that I had had done prior at my GP's office, she knew right away I was off by insane amounts. Talking with someone who understands the impact of hormones on the body made all of the difference. She connected all of my symptoms, including the depression and anxiety, and her answers didn't include medicating me.
What's the causality you may ask? Simple. I am pre menopausal. Yep, at 35 years old. There is no cut and dry answer to why my body chose this route. The human body is full of wonder, and is capable of turning on us at any time it desires. Years of eating disorders, pushing my body to extremes, asking so much of it and never really respecting it until I crashed. My my body had a plan to force change.
The change is working. I chose pellet therapy, it works naturally with the body and is not synthetic. It  has been three weeks since my first treatment,  I am starting to feel the changes. My energy is coming back. My sleep patterns are better. My workouts are not laying me up for days. My brain is starting to cooperate. So far so good, right?
 I keep asking myself is age REALLY just a number? Can we fight the process of aging with supplements, diet, exercise? The answer is yes. But inevitably, age will catch up. That's not a bad thing, and it doesn't mean you or I are old. It means we are progressing. It means our bodies know what needs to be done, we just have to listen.
I share my experiences in hopes that I will help someone else who is struggling. Hormone imbalance is no joke, it has extreme side effects. The answer is not the same for all of us, I just hope to shed some light on the subject. Being an endurance athlete does not put you in the "normal" ranges. Our bodies are used for extended periods of time, under extreme conditions...nothing about us is normal really. It took me doing my own researching to find the true answers to my body's questions, paired with persistence.
You are only given one body to live in...respect it, love it, and nourish it.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

When Things Don't Go As Planned

I honestly try to see a positive in everything, and sometimes, that's difficult. I recently attempted to run Kettle 100 and Black Hills 100, three weeks apart. Kettle was a cluster of bad news from my period starting race morning, to puking, lack of hydration and nutrition, dizzy spells, and Frankfoot unable to keep up...It just wasn't my day.
On the car ride home from Kettle 100, I decided I was running Black Hills 100. Jeff supported this plan. The three weeks leading up to BH100 I rested my legs, lifted weights, and ran Dizzy Goat VERY safely putting in only 20 miles the week before toeing the start line of BH100. I had a new nutrition plan that I was implementing, a solid spreadsheet created by the one and only Jody, and my crew/pace team of Jeff and Richelle.
Sooooo, we headed to Sturgis!!! Black Hills has a 10:00am start, which is awesome! I slept great, and I got in a solid meal before the race. Gary and I headed out on to the course. It was beautiful! The sky was so blue, and the trees were the most amazing green. At some points of the course, it was almost as though I could reach up and touch the clouds. The flowers were fragrant, and vivid colors. Every once in awhile a tiger lily would be along the way, and I would smile and think of my great grandmother Lora. Tiger lilies were her favorite flower. I also remembered how my grandma Davia had them planted all along the side of her garage. They were scattered sporadically along the course, I felt like my grandmas were with me.

We went along chatting with other runners, and hitting aid stations. About mile 23 or so we got off course, and we weren't the only ones...We ran 3 "bonus" miles and made it into the next aid station over an hour than expected. It was okay, we moved along. I stayed with Gary for most of the first 50 miles. I say most, because I stopped to squat, and got lost. In the dark, and the course was not marked well in the daylight, yet alone in the pitch dark. I ran an extra 2 "bonus" miles. I now was riding a cutoff, but made it into Silver City 50 mile mark in enough time to change my shorts, since I had gotten into some poison ivy. ( Don't do that, it's bad...)
I picked up Jeff and we headed out together. Now, some people have a hard time being paced or crewed by their spouse, and some races that pertains to me. But, this time I was sharing the course with Jeff. I told him how much I loved the difficulty, the beauty, and the smells of the trail. I made it to the next aid station with just about 5 minutes to spare. Richelle got me fed, stretched and onward!
The next cutoff was tight, and we knew that. I was prancing along with Jeff, moving well, but not necessarily what I would call fast. We knew I would miss the cutoff, and I did, by an hour. This section of the course was not going to be easy for me to kick up speed as there was mud that was so deep for most of the 5.6 miles and Frankenfoot doesn't like getting stuck in mud and being beat down. So, I ran smarter, not harder. After I knew I missed the cutoff, I was enjoying the time with Jeff, after all it's still a vacation. When I am running in these places so full of beauty, I take it all in. I am lucky and I am blessed to be capable to be out there.
I made it into Nemo, and Richelle had told me they were lifting the cutoff. I had to get my long sleeves off, cool down, change socks, lube feet, and EAT! I was very hungry! I got my wet shoes and socks off, some grub in my tum, and an ice filled bandanna on my neck...and then I couldn't go back out, because the aid station captain stated I would be pulled at the next station.
Things didn't go as planned. BUT, my nutrition was spot on. The GU Electrolyte Tabs with ginger were fantastic! I dropped Tailwind and started using these tabs instead, and I am glad I did!
My shoes worked great for the first time in a LONG time. I spent time with some great friends, that are more like my family. And while I was covered in mud, sweat, I'm sure some of my own urine, poison ivy, and smelled foul...my husband smiled at me and hugged me with pride even though 70 miles wasn't the 100 I had planned.
Sometimes we need to fall short of goals to remind us where our weaknesses lie within us.
I didn't fail, things just didn't go as planned...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

One door closes, another door opens.

I cannot recall all of the beautiful moments I shared with my grandma Abbott. She was an amazingly strong woman. She created laughter. She knew every bird by its song. She was loving, caring, smart, and creative. She gave to those in need, she prayed for them too.  She taught me to fish, play poker and Rummy. She loved to sing, crochet, and bake. She was blind most of her adult life, and most never had a clue.
She is gone from the earth now and she celebrated a full life. I will bake with her cookbooks, play her music boxes, read her stories, and teach her games.  I will hold her near and dear to my heart...
The passed couple of months have been full of blurs in my mind. During the time she was in the hospital and up to her final days, none of those seem real now. I look at her in photos and I see her smile, and it just doesn't seem possible that she is gone.
Last week I got married. I married a man that she was very proud to have join our family. Jeff is active duty military, and that was a huge part of my grandmother's life. She supported the troops, and that was of immense importance to her. He loves, supports, and guides my children as though they are his own. During our ceremony I never felt sad that she wasn't there, because I felt her presence.
When Jeff and I met we were friends and training partners. We would run, talk, eat...and run.
When you share running with someone, especially the vast amount of time we spend doing so, you learn everything about them. It is possible that a training partner may know an individual as well or better than even their spouse. Jeff knows all of my weaknesses, my strengths, my pet-peeves, and my trail habits. (we ALL know what I mean here.) And even knowing all of my flaws, he doesn't judge. He has always believed in me, most importantly when I didn't believe in myself. He is mellow and I am...well, not. He balances me and brings me back to center when balance is questionable.
Up to the time I had met Jeff I was learning self love and repairing my body image. I was broken and picking up pieces, slowly but surely. Jeff doesn't realize this, but I prayed really hard for him to come into my life. I didn't pray for someone or a specific man to come into my life. Rather, happiness, patience and acceptance. That's Jeff in a nutshell. And all of those things ultimately brought happiness. A happiness I now get to share with him everyday.
Love is never ending, and endures all things. I lost a person whom taught me so much about love, and respect...but gained a whole new love. A love that has opened a door to new journeys, new smiles, and the kind of love that makes you wonder, " How did I get so lucky?"
Don't lose sight of your worth. Grasp it, and really believe you deserve love...it opens every door!

Monday, February 23, 2015

My 100 mile Soul Journey

Jeff and I departed on our journey on Thursday evening after work toward Steelville, MO. We were going to be meeting up with Rob, Shelby, Journey,  Mike, Adam, and Matt at the cabin that evening. I had been sick early in the week with some chest congestion and coughing, so I slept as Jeff drove. Around 10:00pm, I was having such a coughing fit and a difficult time resting, and with 2 hours to go in the car that Jeff decided we should stop for the night in hopes that I could get some quality rest.
And he was a genius, because I slept a solid 9 1/2 hours! We grabbed a couple bagels and some green tea and headed to the cabin. The drive into Steelville was full of beautiful fall colors, and I was in heaven.

We arrived in the early afternoon Friday, and the gang was out checking out the start area and the trails. We quickly unpacked the Jeep, and I started prepping my gear and crew instructions. It wasn' t long and they were back filling us in on the start area and information they had gathered. We chatted and relaxed and soon Morgan, Jessica, Gary, Richelle, and Larry had arrived and we walked to packet pickup at the Lodge literally out the front door of the cabins. The volunteers were very nice, and informative.We ate the pasta dinner provided  and they also had some YUMMY brownies that our GOATz crew were all over. The RD gave us a briefing as we wrapped up dinner. After the briefing we headed back to get ready for our early morning.

I am never nervous before races. I'm not bragging, but running puts me at ease rather than nervous. But, I couldn't sleep, because the coughing was dealing me a fit. I set my alarm for 2:45am and was up and at 'em! Took a quick shower and dressed and out the door by 3:45am. OT100 is a point-to-point race, so we had to drive to the start and check in by 5:30 for the 6:00 start. I took a cat nap on the way there,  and visualized the race. We all huddled together for warmth at the start and hugged one another and I kissed Jeff  and said " See you in 14 miles!"

The start is on a access road 1.5 miles out then back and up a short road which leads to single track trail. This was new to the race this year and was nice to be able to set your pace. I teamed up with Gary and Jess. We took off on a quick clip for about a mile to warm up and then set into a nice pace. We walked hills, and chatted some but not too much. The leaves were so thick on the trail that it was hard to make out what people were saying with all the crunching. And under all those colorful leaves are rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. The Ozark Trail is absolutely beautiful. The fall colors of deep reds, golden yellows, and occasional pine needles (which are my favorite.) At mile 14 we came into the Sutton Bluff aid station. I grabbed some Ramen , did a quick shoe change, Jeff re-filled my Tailwind and we were off with Jeff and Richelle cheering us on! The three of us stayed together for about 38 ish miles, I was feeling pretty good and locked in my cadence and headed solo to the mile 40, Brooks Creek aid station. I was greeted by Shay ( my pacer from mile 65-finish) , Richelle, and Jeff who would be hopping in to run 25 miles with me. I changed my top layer, re-lubed my feet, and drank some Coke, more Ramen, and oranges. I was feeling really good, having Jeff run with me really put me in my zone.

Jeff and I were running at a steady pace, hiking hills, and keeping consistent. Right at sunset, the temperature immediately dropped. I remember saying to Jeff , "It just got cold." He said I said that at the exact time of sunset. I was experiencing some vertigo throughout miles 45-65 and the headlamp shining on the leaves encouraged this dizziness. We were quick at aid stations, grabbing what we needed and walking out with food. Jeff kept telling me over and over how proud he was of me, and that gave me some extra oomph. From Highway DD aid station (mile 47.2) to Hazel Creek aid station (mile 65.4) It was cold, lows hit in the teens and with the creek crossings I was having some issues with the chills. Jeff was trying to give me his coat, and I kept refusing as he needed to stay warm as well. I could tell he was concerned for me, the dizzy spells had me stopping frequently to assure my footing.

Right before Hazel Creek aid station there are two creek crossings very close together. I asked Jeff how far we were from the aid station and he said he thought less than a mile. So I didn't waste any time looking for rocks to get across, I went full on through and they were fairly deep. At the second creek crossing we ran into Morgan, who had hurt his ankle. We checked that he was okay, and headed on to keep moving. The aid station wasn't as close as we had thought...I kept telling Jeff we took a wrong turn, and I was so cold. At this point I was shaking, and my left calf had sunk in from cramping so hard. I finally saw the lights of the aid station...the volunteers immediately collected me and put me in what I call "The Coffin." But, it was a trailer with a heater and chairs. Now, this is a huge no-no...but I had to. I was convulsing, had tears froze to my face, and my left leg was not cooperating. Shay and her husband Chris were waiting for us , and found me in "The Coffin." I was in tears, teeth chattering, and soaked...not my normal self. Shay was working so hard to get my shoes off, but the laces were frozen. I sat a couple of minutes shaking while Shay undressed me and got me wrapped in a sleeping bag. I asked her to give me a few minutes alone with Jeff, who was kneeling beside me. I looked at him wheezing , crying, snot faced I couldn't talk. He just kept saying, "We're going to get you warm, dressed, and back out there." I then asked him, "Why do you hate me?" Jeff had tears in his eyes, in all honesty had he told me to quit things would have been bad for him. The volunteers were doing great getting me all I needed, checking in, and encouraging me to get after it. With Chris, Shay, and Jeff gathering all my gear, dressing me, and booting me back out on the trail I stayed for nearly 45 minutes. But, my calf relaxed, my tears thawed, and my pitty party was over.

Shay and I took off into the dark trail, I was moving at a solid pace to get warmed up. An important move I made here was leaving my Garmin with Jeff, it was better to allow Shay to let me know what my timing was for cutoffs then for me to focus so much on my watch. We chatted, we laughed, we talked about how much we "loved" the rocks :) The hollows were very cold, your breath would freeze with every exhale. Morgan had let me borrow his GOATz Buff, thankfully! This helped a lot with my breathing. I remember asking Shay to turn her headlamp off and we both gazed at the sky. The stars were incredible!!! At this point I stayed steady, I listened to my body. When I needed to slow, I power hiked, when I had stomach issues I sucked Gin-Gin's hard candy and drank Tailwind, both helped immensely.

We arrived at mile 73.3, Pigeon Roost Rd aid station. This was an interesting stop. Their water was all near frozen, the food was all packed up, and the potato soup was not exactly warm either. I remember taking a drink of Coke and a trickle came out of the half full Dixie cup...frozen. I took a couple of oranges, and ate some Honey Stingers. I took off out of the A.S. FAST! Shay was hoping to get some coffee, so I took off without her knowing she would catch up.

Now, here is where I had to make up some time...
I was JUST making cutoffs due to my little hiatus in the trailer. Shay was good at pushing me, reminding me we had just a tad over 5 miles until I would see Jeff at the next A.S. We had another rather deep water crossing in this 5 miles. As we approached the crossing, we both knew it was DEEP.  We looked for rocks and we found a nice way to cross with minimal water. However, it turned out to be a not-so-nice plan. We were both covered in burrs, and we met a barbed wire fence :) We adapted and found our way back to the single track. This was a segment I could not afford to lose any time on.

Berryman Campgroud mile 78.6, was a welcoming bunch of volunteers! I had to be quick, I just beat the cut off by a handful of minutes. I had to switch shoes, socks, and add a brace to my ankle. Jeff was panicked, as my laces were frozen again. We got the switch done, ate some soup, and I received an extra boost of confidence from Paul Turner ( P.T.) He was helping with the shoes fiasco,  he unveiled an OT100 buckle saying, "You're going to finish and you'll have one of these!" I rubbed the buckle for luck and ran on...still ahead of cut off by 3 minutes.

Berryman made all the difference! I was running a lot at this point and I knew I had to make-up time. Shay pushed me. She knew just how to keep me focused. I had my music in and I was getting pumped! The next aid station was an 8.5 mile stretch. I had passed a runner, and this was Shay's tool to keep me driven. I would say, " I have to pee." Shay would respond, "No. You don't have a good enough lead on that guy back there." She would be behind me saying, " Do you want to know what you just ran that mile in?" I'd shake my head "No." Something around mile 88-90 really set in that I was going to do this. I had tears several times in the realization that I would be crossing the finish line. I would holler back to Shay, " I love you!"
 I have tears now writing this. There is a special place you find deep in the woods with your pacer. It's a bond, a trust, a deep relationship. Shay is one of my dearest friends, and she will forever be part of the reason why this journey was so special.

I came into Billy's Branch A.S. mile 87.1 and there was Richelle, whom had been pacing Gary. She had a nasty sprained ankle and in true Richelle fashion brought Gary into sunrise, when she knew it was time to stop. At this point, Shay grabbed me and said, "You just made up 45 minutes!!!" Richelle gave me some extra Honey Stinger chews, and she made sure that I knew she was proud of me.
 Our community is so supportive and Richelle has become my family. This little pat on the back gave me the fuel for the next 13.8 miles!

Shay and I took off with sun being up and bringing some warmth back I was in good spirits. I knew I had to keep strong and not allow my legs and my mind to meet at any point. We were running and laughing. At no point did I forget what I was there to do. I had just over a 7 mile stretch until I would see Jeff, this was a big motivator for me. I wanted him to not worry, he needed to see me strong and determined. I came into Henpeck Hollow at a nice clip! Everyone was cheering! I think Jeff and the volunteers were all surprised to see me moving so well. They took my bladder and my pack and I took off without Shay and my pack...I was feeling it and didn't want to stop.
Jeff ran down the trail to get me my pack, he said it was nearly a mile in ... I was booking!

Shay was back out on the dirt with me in no time, she said that the volunteers at Henpeck had told her that the last 6.5 miles had 3 large climbs. Great. I remember saying, " Of course there is..." At this point it had started raining. I absolutely love running in the rain, it's rejuvenating. Shay was worried with my bronchitis that this would really be the straw that broke the camel's back. I just pulled my hood over my head and moved forward. One step at a time. Each step bringing me closer to my buckle!

The last 6.5 miles was my closure to my journey. Every steep climb I grunted, and cussed. But I kept moving, each time I increased my pace. Shay kept telling me how proud she was, and how I was moving along so quickly. I couldn't wait to get to the finish. To get to Jeff. To show myself I could do it. At approximately mile 100, we were able to see Bass River Resort ( the finish line.) Shay stopped me. She took that moment to hug me, and thank me for taking her along my journey.
The conclusion of OT100 was me running into the finish line at a sub 8 minute pace for .9 miles. I could hear Rob yelling for me, I could see Jeff . I pushed as hard as I could, as I finished I dropped to my knees. I. Was. Done.
31:21:33. Good enough to earn me the Last Mule in The Barn Award.

Shay wrapped me in her hugs, and we cried. (Go figure) Running 100 miles changed me. I found my weaknesses out on that trail, I dug deep to bury them.
 I can't  explain in any words the way it feels to be connected with the earth, to look up in the night sky at the stars with no barriers. To hear the hooting owl through the darkness is not scary, it's rather soothing. I put many miles on my body, but none as special as this 100.9. I found a part of my soul that had been missing...the retrieval is what holds a deeper satisfaction than the buckle.

I send all of my love to each individual who was part of my journey. Each one of you hold a piece of my heart.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Taking My Own Advice

As 2015 is quickly going by, I start looking back on the passed 5 years. I've grown. Tons. I've learned to love and let love in. I've learned to be a better version of myself, I've learned that numbers are not what make who I am ( ex. size of clothing, what the scale reads, how many miles I log, or how fast I run them for that matter.) But most of all I have learned to take my own advice.
Recently I have noticed that so many people are locked into comparison, self hatred, body image issues, procrastination, self pitty, jealousy, and following the masses.
I am possibly the most guilty of these "sins" and it's not just me that it affects, it's also my children. In fact, I have noticed the more I heal those broken parts of me, the more I accept my flaws. Should I label them flaws? Probably not. Notice: I am still healing, and will be for a VERY long time.
I cannot tell you how many times a day I look in the mirror and wish I could see what others see in me. I struggle some days to hold back the tears because I want a butt with no cellulite, I wish I didn't have stretch marks, I want to look like so and so. The list is quite long actually...scary.
 But, I think about how much time I put in to being healthy. I eat healthy, I spend hours in the gym, I run (a lot), those stretch marks are from the creation of the three best works of my life, and looking like so and so may be tempting, but unnecessary.
  I find myself giving solid advice to my friends and loved ones. Advice that I should really look into taking. I have friends  whom compare themselves to other runners, other women, and other mothers all the time. In those times of comparison they bash themselves mercifully. And the cycle continues. As I listen, I think of me over the years looking in the mirror wanting so badly to be "better." What does that even mean? It means that I would make myself vomit, I would restrict my calories and push my body to extreme limits during that restriction, and the worst call myself fat.
Did all of that self abuse make me better? It may have made me appear "better" to my sick mind in the mirror, but I was indeed much worse.
2015 brings me to a new start, from 2009 when I began my fitness journey. I shed over 78 pounds in that time frame..some of it may be back occasionally. But, I am human and that's allowed. I have become friends with women that empower me, and have taught me that giving to each one of them indeed is what makes me "better." I have befriended humans that push their limits and have educated me on doing the same. I have found soul mates in these friendships. I have found love that is just that, love.
The comparison factor creeps in and out as it always will. As humans we want and want. But, each day finding new limits weather they are spiritual, physical, or mental is what really makes me better.
I have vowed to make my time in the gym and my miles about being healthy, not better. I want to feel good, I want to heal,  and I want to be a role model for my children. If being a size 4 versus that size 0 is what people think makes me better, I don't want those individuals in my life. It's toxic.
I embrace my curves. I embrace my strong arms and quads. And dammit, I embrace who I am!
It's quite liberating. Letting go of the comparisons and the inner demons.  The time we spend picking up the broken pieces of ourselves on the inside will shine on the outside. I am learning everyday to be a better version of me, and I am taking my own advice...